Decentralization and Spontaneous Order

submitted by jwithrow.decentralization

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Decentralization and Spontaneous Order

November 25, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $2,084. Gold closed at $1,074 per ounce. Oil closed at $42.87 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.25%. Bitcoin is trading around $324 per BTC today.

Not much action in the markets this week as Wall Street humanoids are gearing up for the big holiday on Thursday. Only the high-frequency trading machines remain to trade back-and-forth with one another for a few days. Despite this calm, I get the sense that a big move is brewing…

Also worth mentioning, I appeared on the SovereignBTC podcast with host John Bush last week. We had a blast talking about many of the topics I often muse on here in the Journal. If you would like to listen to the interview, you can find it at the LTB Network here.

Dear Journal,

“That was really sweet what you wrote about Madison…” wife Rachel said after reading my previous journal entry. “But the only thing you said about me was that I wouldn’t read past a certain point!”

“Well did you read past that paragraph?”, I asked with a wry grin on my face.

“No, that’s as far as I got…”

My last entry discussed the potential for the family unit to act as a sovereign institution in light of the burgeoning Great Reset, much to the benefit of both the sovereign family and the local community. The underlying theme of that entry, and of many recent journal entries, has been decentralization.

I seek to offer my unfiltered perspective when I sit down to write these journal entries, and I only write them when motivated to do so for that reason. That’s why the Journal follows no set schedule whatsoever, though I try my best to post a weekly entry. Sometimes when I re-read my unfiltered entries, however, I get the feeling that readers may come away with a more negative sentiment then I intend to convey. Continue reading “Decentralization and Spontaneous Order”

How the Fed Grows Government

by Hunter Hastings – Mises Daily
Article originally published in the January 2015 issue of BankNotesEccles Building

We are told that elections are important, but the most powerful state institution, the central bank, is totally out of reach of the voter.

Ludwig von Mises viewed democracy as a utilitarian concept. It was the form of political organization that allowed the majority to change the government without violent revolution. In Socialism, Mises writes “This it achieves by making the organs of the state legally dependent on the will of the majority of the moment.” He identified this form of political process as an essential enabler of capitalism and market exchange.

Mises extended this concept of utilitarian democracy to citizens’ control of the budget of the state, which they achieve by voting for the level of taxation that they deem to be appropriate. Otherwise, “if it is unnecessary to adjust the amount of expenditure to the means available, there is no limit to the spending of the great god State.” (Planning for Freedom, p. 90).

Today, this utilitarian function of democracy, and the concept of citizens’ limitations on government mission and government spending, has been taken away by the state via the creation and subsequent actions of central banks. The state carefully created a central bank that is independent of the voters and unaffected by the choices citizens express via the institutions of democracy. In the case of the US Federal Reserve, for example, the Board of Governors state that the Federal Reserve System “is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by the Congress, and the terms of the members of the Board of Governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms.”

Independent from Voters, But Not from Politicians

Importantly, the central bank is independent of the citizens in this way, but, in practice, not independent of politicians. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is quoted as asserting, “I never said the central bank is independent,” alluding to similar statements in two books he has written, and pointing to one-sided political pressure significantly limiting the FOMC’s range of discretion.

This institutionally independent, but politically directed central bank spearheads a process that enables largely unlimited government spending. It expands credit and enables fiat money, which is produced without practical limitation. Fiat money enables government to issue debt, which, at least so far, also has been pursued without restraint. The unlimited government debt enables unrestrained growth in government spending. The citizenry has no power to change this through any voting mechanism.

Thus, the state is set free from having to collect tax revenue before it can spend, and as Mises explained, in such a case, there is no limitation on government at all:

The government has but one source of revenue — taxes. No taxation is legal without parliamentary consent. But if the government has other sources of income it can free itself from this control.

In other words, when faced with the possibility of voter reprisals, members of Congress are reluctant to raise taxes. But if government spending no longer necessitates taxes, government becomes much more free to spend.

Without restraints on government spending, there are no restraints on government’s mission, or on the growth in the bureaucracy that administers the spending. The result is a continuous increase in regulations, and a continuous expansion of state power.

Has The Central Bank Limited Itself?

In the one hundred years since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, US federal government spending has grown from $15.9 billion to a budgeted $3,778 billion in 2014 (a number we now refer to as $3.8 trillion to make the numerator seem less egregious). Spending as a percentage of GDP has advanced from 7.5 percent to 41.6 percent over the same period. A comparison of regulation growth is more difficult, but over 80,000 pages are published in the Federal Register annually today, versus less than 5,000 annually in 1936.

The evidence, therefore, is that voting makes no difference to this lava flow of spending and regulation. Whatever the will of the majority of the moment, government spending and government power will continue to expand, with consequent reduction in the economic growth that is the primary goal of the society that is being governed.

John Locke opined that, when governments “act contrary to the end for which they were constituted,” they are at a “state of war” with the citizens, and resistance is lawful. (Two Treatises of Government, p. 74). The theory and practice of unhampered markets and individual liberty are particularly relevant at election time.

Hunter Hastings is a member of the Mises Institute, a business consultant, and an adjunct faculty member at Hult International Business School

Please see the January 2015 issue of BankNotes for this article and others like it.